We are here! We are here! We are here!

Published on
August 18, 2011

To the members of the ROH community: I am available to talk to anyone about this huge development in the world of people living with non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes. This has the potential to become a major missed opportunity to cut millions of preventible deaths related to NCDs! You can contact me via my about.me page: http://about.me/askmanny

In recent times Dr. Seuss books had a bit of a "comeback" in our lives. Our son performed in a junior version of Seussical, a musical based on Dr. Seuss material, largely inspired by the story behind Horton Hears a Who!

As it happens, the story's climax has a bunch of minuscule characters (called "the Who's") living on a speck that Horton (the elephant and hero of the story) is trying to save because only he can hear them speak. The rest of the animals are (roughly speaking) ready to roast them and, after a thunderous series of "We are here! We are here! We are here!" screams by the Who's, eventually a roaring "YOPP!" screamed by the smallest of the Who's, the rest of the animals finally hear them and they are spared a most terrible end and left to live happily ever after.

Why am I talking about Dr. Seuss on my TuDiabetes blog? Because I very much feel like we're at a crossroads not unlike the one faced by the Who's on Horton's speck in the story... we are just over a month away from a potentially life-changing moment in the lives of people living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which diabetes is a part of, along with cancer, heart disease, lung disease and many other conditions. Ten years ago, it was the turn of AIDS and 2001 became a turning point for the AIDS community... we're now faced with the same potential opportunity, to get the heads of state of the world to make 2011 the turning point for NCDs so that (in the words of Ann Keeling, CEO of the International Diabetes Federation), we don't "sleepwalk into a sick future."

As things stand, the "speck" where all Who's live (that is ALL of us, living or touched by any Non-Communicable Disease, be it diabetes, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, etc.) is about to fall into pot full of boiling water. It may sound like an exaggeration but it is sadly true, because the US, Canada and the EU are strongly opposing making any kind of serious commitment to ensure that preventable deaths from NCDs are cut by 25% by 2025. Why? Ann Keeling thinks it's because they don't want to be held accountable. They are essentially acting as ostriches, burying their head in the sand.

Here is an exclusive interview I did with Ann Keeling, CEO of International Diabetes Federation (and Chair of the NCD Alliance) this morning about this whole situation:

So what's to do? All of us, as Who's that we are, need to yell out "WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE!" We really cannot afford to stay quiet.

To help you raise your voice, here are three things you can do:

Contact your head of state/head of government. Tell them you expect them to attend the UN Summit on NCDs, Monday, September 19, 2011 and for the US, Canada and the EU to commit to these measurable outcomes:
If you live in the US, contact President Barack Obama.
If you live in Canada, contact Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
If you live in the UK, contact Prime Minister David Cameron.

Tell everyone you know offline and via social media about what's going on: there needs to be more general awareness about NCDs and where the current path we're on will take us in the very near term. If you tweet, you may want to include the Twitter accounts of the heads of state:
If you tweet from the US, let @BarackObama and @WhiteHouse know how you feel.
If you tweet from Canada, let @pmharper know how you feel.
If you tweet from the UK, let @number10gov know how you feel.

If you can make it, join us on Sunday, September 18 in New York City, as we UNITE for a healthy future. Please RSVP on the event page.

The US, Canada and the EU may be jeopardizing the success of the UN Summit, but we have a voice. Let's make it be heard!